What’s news in the Northwest today:
RICHLAND, Wash. — A Hanford worker was taken for a ride in a portable toilet when it was picked up by a fork lift driver who didn’t realize it was occupied. The Tri-City Herald reports the passenger was not injured in a 15-foot move earlier this month across a gravel road. The driver heard the man yelling inside and let him out. Washington Closure Hanford spokesman Todd Nelson says it’s a reminder for workers to follow procedures and double-check. The fork lift operator had looked at the door and thought the occupancy indicator showed that no one was inside.
2 Moses Lake boys safe after kidnapping attempt
MOSES LAKE, Wash. — The Grant County sheriff’s office says two boys, ages 3 and 4, were safely returned to their mother early today morning after an attempted kidnapping. The woman called for help, saying her roommate had accused her of poisoning the boys. He ran out with one child under each arm. Deputies found the man and arrested him after a short chase. He’s jailed for investigation of kidnapping. Deputies had contacted the same 30-year-old man late Thursday night because he was screaming in a neighborhood. He said the Lord told him to. He also said his home was infested with demons. Deputies had no reason to hold him at that time.
Washington halts release of R-71 petitions after appeal
OLYMPIA — Washington officials have stopped releasing copies signature petitions that forced a vote on a 2009 domestic partnership law. The secretary of state’s office said today that it is has suspended the release of the documents until an appeals court can consider an emergency motion that seeks to keep the names of signers private. The state has already released more than 30 sets of the signatures, including to The Associated Press. Supporters of the petition fear the public disclosure of names will lead to harassment. The attorney general’s office say disclosure is necessary under public records laws. Referendum 71 asked voters to approve or reject a domestic partnership law approved by lawmakers and the governor. The law granted registered domestic partners additional state rights previously given only to married couples.
Corrections officer cut at Lakewood office
LAKEWOOD, Wash. — A community corrections officer is recovering from a box cutter wound in the leg he suffered when he attempted to arrest an offender for a parole violation at the Department of Corrections field office in Lakewood. The department says the 54-year-old officer was stitched up Thursday at Tacoma General Hospital, and the 25-year-old suspect remained at the hospital today for treatment of a self-inflicted wound to his wrist. He was being arrested for failing a drug test and could now face an assault charge. He has been under community supervision for two years because of an attempted theft conviction.
Bangor submarine captain relieved of command
BANGOR, Wash. — The commander of a Trident missile submarine based at Bangor has been relieved for what the Navy calls a loss of confidence in his ability to command. Submarine Group 9 spokesman Lt. Ed Early told the Kitsap Sun Cmdr. Joseph Nosse was removed from the USS Kentucky for shortfalls in professional performance, not personal conduct. Nosse took command of Kentucky’s Gold Crew in February 2010 and remained in charge when the Blue and Gold crews were combined in August in preparation for the sub’s refueling next year at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Nosse is the second Bangor commander to lose his submarine this year. Cmdr. Michael Varney of the fast attack submarine USS Connecticut, was relieved in June for mishandling classified information.
DEA agents raid 4th medical pot garden in Oregon
CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Federal agents have raided a fourth Southern Oregon medical marijuana garden. The government hasn’t commented on the raids, although federal prosecutors say medical marijuana grown in Oregon is being sold illegally in other states. The raids started in September. No charges have been filed. Lori Duckworth of the local chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws says agents made the fourth raid Thursday. She says they pulled 17 plants from a Central Point garden that had been harvested and searched the owner’s Ashland house, where marijuana was drying. Duckworth told the Medford Mail she fears more raids are ahead during the harvest season.
Coast Guard pilot charged in fatal Washington crash
PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The only survivor of a Coast Guard helicopter crash that killed three others on the Washington coast has been charged with negligent homicide and other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Lt. Lance Leone was one of two pilots flying the MH-60 Jayhawk from Astoria, Ore., to the crew’s base in Sitka, Alaska, in July 2010 when it hit power lines off LaPush. Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow told the Peninsula Daily News Leone also was charged Sept. 30 with dereliction of duty and destruction of government property. The charges will be reviewed during a Coast Guard Article 32 hearing in early December in Juneau, Alaska, where Leone is stationed. He faces more than seven years in prison if convicted on all counts at a court-martial.
Police: Boise man arrested in fight over cab fare
BOISE — Police say a Boise man was arrested after striking a taxi driver’s vehicle several times with rock in a dispute over fare. Ada County Jail records show 26-year-old Justin L. Janzen remained in custody early today on suspicion of felony malicious injury to property. Police say Janzen was arrested at about 1 a.m. at a Boise intersection after a fight with a taxi driver over the fare he was being charged. At one point during the argument, Police say Janzen got out of the vehicle and used a rock to hit the taxi several times. The damage is estimated at more than $1,000.
Couple sentenced for animal cruelty
KALISPELL, Mont. — A northwest Montana couple with previous animal cruelty convictions in Idaho has been ordered to pay more than $14,000 in restitution to an animal shelter that cared for dozens of cats seized from them. Edwin and Cheryl Criswell were convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals after 116 cats were found living in filthy, snowbound trailers near Marion last December. The Daily Inter Lake reports Cheryl Criswell received a two-year deferred sentence Thursday while Edwin Criswell received a two-year suspended sentence. Both were ordered to complete 200 hours of community service. They were allowed to keep an elderly dog and are each allowed one companion animal that must be spayed or neutered. The Criswells were convicted in 2006 in Idaho after more than 430 animals were found in squalid conditions.
Shark takes bite out of surfboard at Newport
NEWPORT, Ore. — A surfer says a shark took a bite out of his surfboard Thursday afternoon off Newport. KGW reports Bobby Gumm took his board to Ocean Pulse Surfboards in Newport and showed employees how a large piece was bitten off. He was not injured. On Oct. 10 a surfer at Seaside said he was knocked off his board by a great white shark and landed on the back of the shark for a few seconds as it swam off.
Suspect writes he targeted ’non-white’ Calif. man
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregonian newspaper reports it received a letter from one of the suspects in a Northwest killing spree indicating a racist motive in one of the slayings. David Joseph Pedersen and girlfriend Holly Grigsby — both acknowledged white supremacists — are accused of killing four people in Washington, Oregon and California. The newspaper reports Pedersen wrote about the killing of a 53-year-old Eureka, Calif., black man, Reginald Alan Clark. He said the couple intended to take Clark’s car and decided to “kill two birds with one stone so to speak and target a non-white.” Pedersen and Grigsby also are accused of killing a 19-year-old man in Oregon and taking his car. And they are charged with killing Pedersen’s father and stepmother in Everett, Wash.
Autopsy: Student died instantly after collision
LEWISTON — Autopsy results show a north Idaho college student died instantly after being hit by a large vehicle as he was walking along U.S. Highway 95 near Moscow three weeks ago. Thirty-six-year-old Joshwa Merriken was reported missing last month after failing to show up for classes at Lewis-Clark State College. He was last seen walking along the highway and police say he was likely hit on Sept. 30 in the late afternoon or early evening by a pickup truck with a camper. His body was found last weekend by joggers. The Lewiston Tribune reports the autopsy determined that the collision with the truck ruptured Merriken’s heart, causing him to die instantly. Police are still investigating the accident and awaiting forensic reports on evidence gathered at the scene.
Coroner IDs man pulled from SW Idaho reservoir
KUNA, Idaho — A man found dead in a southwestern Idaho reservoir has been identified as an avid paraglider from Boise who went missing earlier this week. Andrew E. Schepp was last seen on Oct. 14 and reported missing Tuesday. Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg issued a statement today saying a body pulled from the Swan Falls Reservoir in Kuna on Thursday has been identified as Schepp and he died of blunt force trauma. The manner of his death remains under investigation. Investigators have said they believe Schepp may have gone paragliding in a remote area and failed to return. The equipment he uses was not at his residence in east Boise and his gold BMW sport utility vehicle was also missing.
Sheriff’s officer demoted for sexual harassment
BILLINGS, Mont. — A Yellowstone County sheriff’s officer has been demoted after an investigation found he sexually harassed a co-worker, in part by asking her if she would consider having an affair. Former Sgt. Steve McCollum was demoted to deputy, will lose about $221 a month in wages and is not eligible for a promotion for at least two years, Sheriff Mike Linder told The Billings Gazette for a story published today. McCollum also is required to undergo training about sexual harassment Linder said Thursday that comments made by McCollum were “unnecessary, unwelcome and rose to the level of sexual harassment.” McCollum, a 17-year employee, had been on administrative leave with pay since Sept. 14 while the complaint was investigated. Linder said McCollum was suspended for a week without pay and will return to work next week. The woman said McCollum had sexually harassed her since she began working for the department in May 2009.
Aircraft carrier triggers garage doors in Everett
EVERETT, Wash. — Some Everett residents can tell when the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln is in port because their garage doors may open on their own and keyless-entry devices on cars stop working. The Daily Herald reports the controls for the small devices are overpowered at times by some radio signals from the ship. Owners may have to see dealers for devices with different frequencies because the military’s needs take precedence.